Thirty-six years ago, Kailash Satyarthi quit his job. He was an electrical engineer in India and had a family but he knew that millions of kids in his country were too poor to go to school. Instead those children had to work many hours a day in terrible places where they were often hurt or even killed. And many kids earned no money at all because their parents sold them to factory owners or farm managers.
Around the world, the numbers are pretty terrible. Some 168 million children go to work each day instead of going to school, and 80 million of them work in very dangerous conditions, making clothes, electronics, even chocolate. Mr. Satyarthi decided to do something about that, even though he was just one person out of 1.2 billion Indians.
He started Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the Save the Childhood Movement. Today he has helped rescue some 86,000 children from slave labor and is a world leader for children’s rights – to go to school and to live in peace.
In 2014, Mr. Satyarthi won the Nobel Peace Prize, and shared the honor with a Pakistani girl, seventeen-year-old Malala Yousafzai. The Nobel committee recognized “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
Because of Mr. Satyarthi’s campaigns, including the Global March Against Child Labour, new guidelines on child labour have been adopted by the International Labour Organization. And 172 countries have signed the agreement to help their own children.
When people travel to India and Pakistan, they often buy one of the beautiful rugs the countries are famous for. But many of those rugs are made by little kids, so twenty-two years ago, Mr. Satyarthi started GoodWeave International. The organization labels, monitors, and certifies that rugs with its label have been by people old enough to do grown-up work.
As the Nobel Prize committee says, Mr. Satyarthi has shown “great personal courage … focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain.”